Great big box full of Jays stuff today, so let's hop right in. Most of this is coming straight from MLBTR (Scroll down, click "Blue Jays Rumors" on the right hand side).
First off, the GM Meetings were delayed so that the players' union and the owners could try and finish hammering out the collective bargaining agreement, which is apparently pretty close to being done. Part of the new arrangement is the removal of type-B status from free agent compensation, or at least the current crop of type-B's would no longer give teams compensation, and some of the worse type-A's would become type-B's or something like that. We can also expect some sort of cap on draft bonuses -- one that wouldn't necessarily prevent a 1st round pick from getting eleventy billion dollars, but taxing a team on total dollars spent over the recommended slot provided by the MLB. I'd expect those slot numbers to be risen, but for a team like the Jays who like to stockpile draft picks, these changes might hurt a bit.
Having said that, I don't think any of these changes will be made effective immediately, mostly because it wouldn't really be fair to anybody who has been involved in the Kelly Johnson free agency, which includes all teams who have already signed a 2B, as well as the Jays and Kelly Johnson himself. The same goes for any other similarly ranked free agents. This should all be settled within a few days though.
Sportsnet's Shi Davidi spoke with AA about offseason stuff, I guess. Among other things, he explains his lack of action, paired with other clubs action, around the 2B market to mean that there is nobody presenting a head and shoulders best selection. If there was a clear-cut number 1, things would be different, but he would rather look at all of his options before rejecting anything. If Kelly Johnson happens to leave the organization, there are other alternatives, and missing the free agents who have signed already isn't the end of the world.
The Blue Jays have been linked to both Mark Buerhle and CJ Wilson so far this offseason, and for good reason... since they check in on everybody and are looking for a front-end rotation arm. I doubt there's much to see here, since there are apparently upwards of 13 teams interested in Buerhle and probably just as many looking in to Wilson.
The Jays are still looking at closers, and some names I've heard circulating around the Jays more than any others have been Francisco Cordero, Matt Capps and Huston Street. Capps and Cordero are free agents, but Street is under contract with the Rockies for $7.5MM for 2012 (with a weird mutual option attached for 2013). Given the pricetag, I can see AA getting Street for next to nothing, or having the Rockies throw in a wad of cash as well. Conversely, the Jays could give a prospect and Mark Teahen instead of taking cash. I suppose I could get on board with this one.
Another name swirling around the Jays rumor mill is *cough* proven winner Rafael Furcal, who the Jays and as many as three other teams are looking at to fill the second base void. This all assumes Kelly Johnson can find a multi-year deal at market value and rejects arbitration, signing elsewhere. I still think the most likely scenario is that Johnson accepts arbitration and is back in Toronto on a 1-year deal. The Padres are looking to trade either Orlando Hudson or Jason Bartlett, so if all else fails, there are two other (depressing) options.
The Jays have claimed reliever Cole Kimball off waivers from the Washington Nationals. Kimball only put up 12 innings this past season, missing a bunch of time due to injury.
Looking at the White Sox, it appears Chris Sale is going to be a starter next season, filling out the rotation with Jake Peavy, Zach Stewart, and Phillip Humber, making it pretty likely the two of John Danks, Gavin Floyd, and Mark Buerhle won't be back. Look for the Jays to be interested.
Ken Davidoff makes a top-ten list of his favorite GM's in the league, based on possibly nothing. Obviously I'm biased, because I think Alex Anthopoulos is a genius among men, but all AA gets here is honorable mention, while Theo Epstein makes the list, despite not being a GM anymore. Also finding spots are Dave Dombrowski of Detroit, for some reason, Terry Ryan, despite 4 years off the job, and Ruben Amaro Jr., despite signing his fat 1B to a 5 year, $125MM extension 3 years before free agency, beginning in his age-32 season, a deal that might go down in history as being worse than the Vernon Wells contract. Larry Beinfest of the Marlins also makes the list, sliding down from his #4 spot a year ago, and his #2 slot 2 years ago [sidenote: What the fuck?!?!], because it's not his fault the owners of the Marlins are cheap [sider note: WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?]
Finally, from Fangraphs, a piece about players who decline at an earlier age than average. They use Carl Crawford and Adam Dunn as examples, but I'm sure Aaron Hill could be pegged in here as well. I'm not sure we can convincingly say that Crawford or Dunn are on the decline after using 1 poor season as a sample, but who knows?